May. 30, 2019

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The Rothman Report

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 The latest news from the State Capitol

In the Community
Celebrating Memorial Day in Cumberland County
This Memorial Day, I was honored to join our community as we saluted those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces to preserve our freedom and to protect their fellow soldiers.

Thanks to the selfless sacrifices made by our soldiers, our nation will forever be the shining city upon a hill, a beacon of hope for those longing for the freedom of all mankind.

May God bless America and our military, and may He continue to watch over them and keep them safe.

 
                          Rothman at the Camp Hill Memorial Day Parade.

 
Rothman at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the American Legion Post 751 in Enola.

Good Hope Middle School Mock Trial
 
It was great to welcome Good Hope Middle School CV eighth-grade students to our Commonwealth's Capital on May 24! They were participating in a mock trial at the Commonwealth Court. Cumberland Valley schools provide excellent programs like Mock Trial that give students a chance to learn about our legal system and sharpen their public speaking skills.
                                   
Local Elementary Students Visit the Capitol
                                   
   

 

The Sporting Hill Elementary fourth-graders came to the Capitol on May 14! We had a great time talking about my job and my time attending Sporting Hill when I was their age.
                                   
   
The newest Cumberland Valley School District building, Winding Creek Elementary School, recently opened for the 2018-19 school year. On May 8, I had fun talking to this great group of new Winding Creek students during their visit to the Capitol about how state government works! I was asked lots of great questions about my job as a state representative. I hope they come by again soon!
                                   
Rothman Meets with Heritage Christian Academy Students

 
Students from Heritage Christian Academy came for a tour of the Capitol with me on May 1. It is always a highlight of my day to meet our local students and hear about what they are learning and what they hope to accomplish in the future.
                                   
Local Boy Scout Earns Eagle Scout Rank
                                   
 
Pennsylvania has a new Eagle Scout! Congratulations to Tristan Paul of Cumberland County.

It was an honor to participate in Tristan's official ceremony earlier this month. I look forward to seeing what this bright young man accomplishes next!
                                                                       
 
State Government News
Getting Government Out of Your Lives and Pocketbooks
President Ronald Reagan once famously quipped, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

In the spirit of the Gipper, House Republicans devoted the month of May to slimming down government and stopping Harrisburg from regulating every aspect of your lives.

We are fighting to repeal out-of-date and burdensome laws, to reexamine the effectiveness of some state boards and commissions, and to put a stop to the overregulation that has tied the hands of job creators and hampered economic progress.

We kicked off these efforts by passing House Bill 762, which requires state agencies to designate a regulatory compliance officer to facilitate better understanding of new and existing regulations and boost compliance rates among affected businesses.

We also started a spring cleaning of sorts to get rid of some our most outdated, irrelevant laws. These include measures that regulate when things can or cannot happen on Sundays, such as movie times, baseball and football games and even playing music. Other laws we are working to repeal include antiquated sections of our Public School Code and the Scotland School for Veterans’ Children, which closed in 2009.

You can read more about what we are doing to make Pennsylvania’s government work for the people here.

Good News for PA Budget, Taxpayers
We have some great economic news to report related to the state budget!

State revenue collections are more than $828 million ahead of estimates with two months to go in the current fiscal year. But that does not mean we should be spending it all.

House and Senate Republicans came together earlier this week to emphasize our intention of using much of the additional funding to build up the state’s reserves. This is to help ensure we can weather the next economic slowdown.

The Commonwealth’s increased revenue is the result of pro-growth policies and our commitment to standing up for taxpayers. That has meant standing against the excessive tax and spending proposals made by the governor over the last several years.

The taxpayers of Pennsylvania expect us to save money and spend effectively, not to overspend and leave our children in debt.

We will continue that commitment through this year’s budget negotiations. A final 2019-20 state budget is due by June 30.

Find further details on Pennsylvania’s revenues here.  

Watch the Republican Caucus press conference on state budget revenues here.  

Fighting for Efficiency, Transparency, and Frugality
As part of our “Government Done Right” initiative, House Republicans passed additional bills to increase transparency, save taxpayers money, and improve the efficiency of government.

House Bill 880 would extend and accelerate the reduction of the debt ceiling for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program by $500 million over five years. Lowering our debt reduces the financial burden of current and future taxpayers.

To ensure businesses get effective and fair treatment when navigating the Commonwealth’s legal system, the House voted to create Commerce Courts. Under House Bill 332, these courts would have judges dedicated to hearing and deciding complex business-related cases, including acquisitions, mergers, dissolutions, and liquidations among other items.

The bills are now in the Senate for consideration.

Update on Rothman Bills: Victims’ Rights, Patient Access, Regulatory Reform
House Republicans are fighting to give victims and survivors a voice in our criminal justice system. We are moving to protect victims and survivors by passing a series of legislative packages strengthening the rights of victims of crime and abuse. Victims and survivors deserve both the protection of our criminal justice system and the tools to help them confront and testify against their abusers. We are determined to ensure families are put first and that we help build better and safer communities for Pennsylvania residents.

My bill, House Bill 1300, would amend Title 42 Pennsylvania’s Sentencing Procedure for Murder in the First Degree. It is currently in the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 1300 would add a 19th aggravating circumstance for instances when the killing is committed in a location that should otherwise be considered a “safe space.” Specifically, if the defendant committed the killing on the premises of an elementary or secondary school, college, place of worship, professional sports facility or government office, that circumstance could be presented to a jury for their determination of whether the death penalty is an appropriate punishment. This legislation would become effective in 60 days.

We are all familiar with the tragic events at the Masontown Borough Municipal Center, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the Amish school in Nickel Mines, Lancaster County. I drafted this legislation with these places in mind.

I am also working to reform our heavily regulated and costly health care system, which badly needs a dose of the free market. My bill, House Bill 891, would increase patient access to experienced doctors.

In Pennsylvania, patients are losing access to experienced physicians. This is largely due to the imbalance in market power in favor of health insurance companies. Insurers that own hospitals are credentialing our community’s physicians and are creating preferred networks after evaluating the physician’s employment status.

Physician groups that are employed by insurer-owned hospitals are granted preferred status, while long-established private practice physicians are cast as lower tier providers solely because of their status as private practitioners.

In today’s insurance market, patients are paying higher co-pays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket maximums when they choose to see experienced private practice physicians instead of physicians who are employed by insurer-owned facilities.

Under my bill, insurance companies would be required to credential physicians based only on their professional training, licensure and clinical expertise. Once credentialed, private-practice physicians would be listed as equal-tiered providers within a given insurer’s physician network. Having more options and competition among medical providers will drive costs of services down and afford Pennsylvanians greater autonomy over their care.

In tackling regulatory reform to enhance job growth in our Commonwealth, I authored two bills as part of the House Republican Caucus’s legislative package. The aggregate cost imposed by growing regulations, as demonstrated in a study by the Mercatus Center, was found to be a 0.8% reduction in economic growth.

In order to address the costs associated with new regulations on our economy, I re-introduced legislation which amends the Regulatory Review Act by requiring any economically significant regulation to be approved by the General Assembly. House Bill 507 is modeled after the Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA) which allows Congress to negate any regulation which has and economic impact of $100 million after 60 days review.

Under this legislation, any regulation which has a fiscal impact of $1 million on the economy must be approved by majority vote in both the Senate and the House. Should either the Senate or the House reject the regulation, the agency will be barred from implementing the regulation.

I also introduced House Bill 509, which is legislation aimed at increasing transparency in the permit review process. As a state representative, I constantly hear concerns from those who are applying for one of the various types of permits in the state. Businesses, farmers, and individuals comment on the unreasonable delay and uncertainty often involved in the process.

To rectify this permit backlog, my legislation will require all agencies which issue permits to post information on their website about the permits that they grant, create an accessible tracking system for applicants to check the status of their applications, and clearly state the legal authority that the agency relies on when rejecting a permit application.

 
The House passed my bill on April 30 and it is now being considered by the Senate. You can watch my comments on the bill HERE.

Supporting Our National Guard Members and Their Families
Recognizing the sacrifices made by the families of PA National Guard members, the House unanimously approved legislation this month to provide them with education benefits.

House Bill 1324 would extend our current Pennsylvania National Guard Military Education Program by including a Guard member’s spouse or child in this benefit program.

The benefit would pay for 10 semesters/quarters, or five years equivalent, at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education tuition rate.

The Guard member could earn these educational benefits for his or her spouse and/or children by committing to a second obligation of six years with the Pennsylvania National Guard. This would help retain current National Guard members and attract transitioning military service members to Pennsylvania while also supporting Guard families.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.

House Republican Leaders Call for Rep. Sims to Face Consequences

House Republican leaders issued an official statement, calling on House Democratic leadership to reprimand Rep. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) for his recent public displays of harassment towards two women and three teenage girls who were peacefully praying outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia.

“Our caucus has given Rep. Sims time to take responsibility for his behavior and show he is willing to treat people who have opinions different from his own with the respect befitting a member of the House of Representatives. We expect House Democratic Leadership to address this.”

You can read the full statement HERE.

You can view the incidents which have led to nationwide outrage HERE and HERE.

Expanding School Choice in Pennsylvania
More students and their families would have access to additional educational options under legislation approved by the House this month to expand the successful Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.

House Bill 800 would increase funding for the program by $100 million to $210 million, providing tens of thousands of additional Pennsylvania families the ability to choose a school that best fits their students’ needs.

In order to ensure that the scholarship program can continue to grow to meet demand, the legislation would also establish an automatic escalator, increasing the EITC scholarship cap by 10% whenever 90% of the tax credits are claimed in the prior year.

To allow more middle-class families access to this program, the bill would increase the maximum annual household income by $10,000 (to $95,000, before add-ons per child), while guaranteeing that once a student has received a scholarship, he or she will remain eligible through high school graduation regardless of changes to family income.

The EITC program provides tax credits to businesses that make contributions to approved scholarship organizations offering scholarships to children in kindergarten through grade 12, educational improvement organizations providing funding for innovative educational programs in public schools, and pre-kindergarten scholarship organizations offering scholarships to children enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.
                                                                   
 
House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) gave a passionate speech on the House floor in favor of the legislation that would increase education options for families.

Legislation to Regulate Pain Management Clinics
As we continue to combat the opioid abuse epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth, the House Health Committee has approved legislation to better regulate pain management clinics and help identify patients who previously overdosed.

House Bill 1005 would help health care professionals identify and better treat patients who previously overdosed by requiring first responders and hospital personnel to document the use of Narcan, Naloxone or any other opioid overdose agent in the patient’s record in a state database.

The database was created in 2014 to help track opioid prescriptions to prevent people with an addiction from obtaining multiple scripts from different doctors.

House Bill 1214 would require pain management clinics to be licensed and regulated by the Department of Health to ensure they are not prescribing or dispensing controlled substances inappropriately. While it is important to ensure that those suffering from chronic pain can access the medications they need, it is equally important to prevent the diversion, misuse, and abuse of controlled substances.

Both bills now go to the full House for consideration.

Health Committee Approves Legislation to Fight Opioid Epidemic

As we continue to combat the opioid abuse epidemic plaguing the Commonwealth, the House Health Committee has approved legislation to better regulate pain management clinics and help identify patients who previously overdosed.

House Bill 1005 would help health care professionals identify and treat better treat patients who previously overdosed by requiring first responders and hospital personnel to document the use of Narcan, Naloxone, or any other opioid overdose agent in the patient’s record in a state database.

The database was created in 2014 to help track opioid prescriptions to prevent people with an addiction from obtaining multiple scripts from different doctors.

House Bill 1214 would require pain management clinic to be licensed and regulated by the Department of Health to ensure they are not prescribing or dispensing controlled substances inappropriately or for non-medical purposes.

Both bills now go to the full House for consideration.

Judiciary Committee Tackles Bills to Protect Homeowners, Minors and Victims of Sexual Extortion
The House Judiciary Committee recently approved three bills to help protect Pennsylvanians from a variety of crimes.

Recognizing that some children are coerced into a childhood marriage, House Bill 360 would prohibit the issuance of a marriage license to anyone under the age of 18. The change in law would also better ensure a person choosing to be married are prepared to make this life-altering commitment.

Responding to the growing problem of illegal residential trespassers or “squatters” essentially taking over properties that don’t belong to them, House Bill 365 would give law enforcement officers better tools to remove such individuals from the property.

Finally, the committee approved legislation to create the offense of sexual extortion, which occurs when a hacker, previous romantic partner or someone else who knows the victim blackmails the victim using photos, videos and other materials to extort sexual favors, money, property or services. Establishing this specific offense better equips law enforcement officers to protect victims and prosecute offenders.

The bills now to the full House for consideration.

Education Committee Advances Charter School Reform Measures
Four bills aimed at updating and improving Pennsylvania’s charter school laws have been approved by the House Education Committee and sent to the full House for consideration.

Charter schools are an important component of our effort to ensure we can meet the unique educational needs of each child.

The bills included in the charter school reform package include:
                                   
o House Bill 355, which would create a new ethics requirement for charter school trustees and administrators.
o House Bill 356, which would give charter schools a first right of refusal for the purchase or lease of unused school district buildings and require school districts, community colleges, and state-owned universities to give cyber charter schools reasonable access to their facilities to administer standardized tests.
o House Bill 357, which would require the Department of Education to create a uniform process for a charter school application and a uniform charter amendment process.
o House Bill 358, which would allow charter school students to be dually enrolled in college classes through a higher education institution.
 
Programs, Services, Opportunities
Prevent Lyme: Check for Ticks
With May designated as Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, individuals who spend time outdoors should check themselves for ticks and be aware of the symptoms of Lyme disease and other tick-related ailments.

The first line of defense against Lyme is to take precautions in the outdoors by using insect repellent with DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, checking for – and promptly and properly removing – any ticks, and showering shortly after exposure.

If bitten, an individual should monitor the area for the next month. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, a bull’s eye rash may appear, and other symptoms that can be mistaken for viral infections, such as influenza or infectious mononucleosis.

Pennsylvania has led the nation in confirmed cases of Lyme disease for three straight years.

Last year, a $500,000 grant was provided to East Stroudsburg University (ESU) to allow all Pennsylvania residents to have ticks (found on them or a family member) tested for free by the university. The Tick Lab is located within the Dr. Jane Huffman Wildlife Genetics Institute at ESU. Click here to access the Tick Lab website with all the details.

For tips about how to protect yourself from Lyme disease, click here.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Working to support people struggling with depression or other mental health conditions, the House recently designated May as “Mental Health Awareness Month” in the Commonwealth.

Mental illness is not always visible, but it affects Pennsylvanians from all walks of life. This invisibility can make people feel isolated and unable to share their experiences.

Only about half of people impacted by mental illness seek treatment, and too many people struggle in silence. It is important that all Pennsylvanians understand mental illness is a biologically based disorder that requires medical attention.

You can learn more about mental health and services available in Pennsylvania by clicking here.

Rothman Reminder: Veterans Do Not Need to Pay for Benefit Applications
Veterans and their dependents should never pay for assistance to apply for veterans’ benefits. Federal and state laws make provisions for accredited veteran service officers to provide free advice and assistance for all to access their veterans’ benefits.

There are approximately 200 veteran service officers in Pennsylvania who work within organizations such as the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), county veterans affairs offices and several veterans service organizations.

Accredited veteran service officers provide veterans and their dependents free assistance to identify, determine eligibility, and apply for a wide range of benefits on the local, state and federal levels, including:

• Payment of burial allowances.
• Ensuring grave markers and headstones are properly requested and placed.
• The Disabled Veterans Real Estate Tax Exemption Program.
• Veterans emergency assistance.
• Blind and paralyzed veterans’ pensions.
• The Education Gratuity Program.
• Service-connected disability and non-service-connected disability pensions.
• Federal health care benefits.
• Survivor benefits.

To locate your county director of veterans affairs or for more information on other veterans service organizations and to find out more about veterans benefits, visit the DMVA online at dmva.pa.gov and click on Veterans Affairs.

Have an Issue or Concern?
If you are a resident of the 87th District and need assistance with a state agency, please feel free to contact my Camp Hill office at 717-975-2235. One of my staff members will be more than happy to assist you.

Stay in Touch with Me on Social Media
You can stay up to date on my latest news and activities by visiting my House website, reprothman.com, or my official Facebook page or my official Instagram account. You can watch my House floor speeches and press interviews at my YouTube channel HERE.
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Office Locations
1200 Camp Hill Bypass, Suite 202, Camp Hill, PA 17011 | Phone: 717-975-2235
163A East Wing, Capitol Complex, PO Box 202087, Harrisburg, PA 17120 | Phone: 717-783-2063
TTY: 855-282-0614
 
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